Creative Arts Night or "Unintended Lessons in Tuning Pianos"

Last week I accompanied two soloists at the Creative Arts Night. The church did a great job of putting together an evening aimed at opening eyes to the slavery and abuse of women in our own area. They had posters on all the walls with facts and information and a computer center set up to be able to email local representatives. One of the entrances looked like this:

Husband and I at the event

Various forms of artwork were displayed for sale, and even some that weren't for sale were sold (for the right price). I was just a little part of this, accompanying during the recital that followed the general art-viewing. The recital (mostly opera and art songs, with some classical piano, guitar, violin, and some modern drama for good measure) was very well received.

 This picture is from one of the dramas.  Different numbers were displayed representing statistics about abuse and human trafficking. The picture does not show this well, but the people holding the number signs all had duct tape across their mouth.

Overall, I hear it was a good night.

But here's the back story, and the part that had me worried all afternoon, night, and the next morning even, and taught me lessons which I don't think the planners of the event ever intended:

You see, I had offered to tune the piano for the event when I was asked to play, thinking by that time surely I would be done with the tuning course (or enough of it) and be ready to get to work.  So, I wasn't entirely surprised when I received a phone call the day of the event... but I definitely wasn't where I thought I'd be in the course. However, I pictured some really terrible church pianos that I've played and figured I should give it a try and at least make it sound better. I agreed and had exactly 2 hours to tune the piano.

Problem #1- I hadn't actually tuned a piano all the way through and assumed 2 hours would be enough. It wasn't.

Because of...

Problem #2- The piano had existing damage that I didn't know about until I started tuning it. And I didn't realize how extensive it was until I got going a little ways. Which made it much harder to tune, which means time, of which I didn't have very much. It was either tune the piano or get it back to where it had been and tell them I couldn't tune it... and I chose the former because at this point I'd already started, and let's face it, who likes telling someone you can't do what you said you'd do. (I've learned my lesson. Next time, I'll just tell them I can't do it.)

So, end of story, I ran out of time, took some short cuts (I know, all the piano technicians out there are shaking their heads saying "what shortcuts?"), and did as best as I could. But it still didn't sound how I thought it should. And I wasn't happy about that, at all. It was my first piano tuning, and I wanted it to be perfect. I went home, changed, ranted to my husband, got supper on the run, and came back in time to play for the recital. The recital went well, but I could still tell something was wrong.

After the recital, I offered to come back and fix the piano the next day. And after a very troubled night I did go back, leaving it in much better order than I had the night before. It also took less time that I thought, restoring some of my faith in the work that I've done so far in my course.

Anyway, I've learned my lesson(s):

1. No emergency tunings.

Not for a while anyway. I really don't know how long it will take me to tune any given piano at this point... so getting stuck in a tight time-frame is not a good idea.

2. I don't know everything yet, and that's ok.  It's actually kinda hard for me to be ok with that, but I know that everyone has to start somewhere. And if I can't do something, I'll just admit it, and not try to muscle through... unless for some reason the client really wants me to do so.  But I think that will probably only happen with my parents' piano.

Still want to hire me?

Good! Give me a few months, and then I'll see what I can do.

Until then, it's back to practicing and homework for me.